After years lingering in development hell, Martin Scorsese's long-gestating mobster picture The Irishman is finally starting to come together. Domestic distributor Paramount sold the international rights to STX Entertainment at the Cannes Film Festival this year for the whopping price of $50 million. The Irishman is based on Charles Brandt's book I Heard You Paint Houses, which detailed the life of Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran. The project reunites Scorsese with his frequent collaborator Robert De Niro for the first time since 1995's Casino. In addition, Al Pacino will be teaming up with the legendary director for the first time in his career. It's easy to see why STX was so interested in getting involved.
The next order of business is lining up the production schedule for The Irishman, and now those pieces are starting to fall into place. While it's exciting for cinephiles to see the film becoming a reality, they're still going to have some time to wait before they see the results on the big screen. The Irishman remains a couple of years away from hitting theaters.
In their report on Media Asia acquiring the Chinese distribution rights for the movie, Deadline is saying that the plan is to commence principal photography in early 2017, with a late 2018 release window eyed. It isn't surprising this is what Paramount is considering, since on-paper The Irishman has the workings of a major awards contender. The pedigrees of the cast and filmmaker are undeniable, and an end-of-year premiere would be a great way of getting the film in the Oscar race.
That seems like a lengthy timeline for a "smaller" film such as this, but there could be good reason for that. During Cannes, it was said that the budget for The Irishman would run close to $100 million because Scorsese wanted to digitally de-age his elder actors for flashback sequences (as opposed to hiring younger thespians for those scenes). The technology is definitely advanced enough to do that, but it's still a process that will take some time to get right. If this is Scorsese's intention, viewers would probably rather he not rush the post-production to meet a 2017 date. If young De Niro and Pacino don't look convincing, it could pull people right out of the story.
While this isn't the juiciest Irishman update for moviegoers to look over, it's still great to hear the film is the next one for Scorsese. The Oscar winner has a number of intriguing projects said to be coming through the pipeline (such as Devil in the White City with Leonardo DiCaprio), but there were several hoping he would turn his attention to The Irishman soon. As Scorsese displayed in 2013's The Wolf of Wall Street, he can still deliver a dynamic and entertaining tale of real-life crime. He seems like the perfect fit for this kind of material and will be right back in his gangster wheelhouse that's turned out memorable films like Goodfellas and The Departed.
With "early 2017" said to be the filming target (no specific date was given), Scorsese will be looking to iron out his supporting cast in the near future. During the early stages, Joe Pesci was said to be attached, but the actor has reportedly dropped out as he enjoys his self-imposed retirement. Regardless if Scorsese can convince Pesci to change his mind, he will certainly have no problem attracting talented names to The Irishman. It's arguably a piece of Hollywood history.
The Irishman has no official release date. We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.